By BEN JOHNSON
Nine words from Jason Proctor told the story of Tahlequah’s performance at the Class 5A regional cross country meets on Saturday.
“It was a great day for Tahlequah cross country,” he said.
Indeed, it was.
Both Tahlequah teams won regional championships, and Zech VanFleet capped off the day with an individual gold.
“This was our first time winning both girls and boys regional titles in the same year,” Proctor said. “So that in itself is pretty awesome.”
For the second straight year, VanFleet set the tone for the regional field to pick up another individual crown. This season, VanFleet edged out Durant’s Alberto Jazquez for regional bragging rights, recording a time of 17:06.86 in the 5K with Jazquez at 17:10.29.
Tahlequah’s Mo Bassime was 32 seconds behind VanFleet, but he managed to record a 10th-place finish. Also for Tahlequah, Braxton Hood (18:06) was 15th, Aaron Eversole (18:17) was 17th and Seth Martin (18:25) was 21st.
“Zech ran well out front to claim his second of back-to-back regional individual titles,” Proctor said. “Also garnering regional medalist honors were Mo and Braxton. Aaron just missed the medal stand but gave us four runners in the top 18 and put is in a great position to walk away with the win. Sophomores Seth Martin and Michael Spears sealed the win for us when Seth out ran Coweta’s 5th runner over the final straightaway.”
The Tigers posted 64 points, which was 10 better than Coweta. Skiatook (98), Edison (144) and Guthrie (176) rounded out the top five.
“We knew going in that it was going to be very close with us Coweta, and Skiatook after running against them in the conference meet,” said Proctor, whose team also claimed the Metro Lakes Conference crown on Oct. 15.
“Essentially, we got to run the regional meet in back-to-back weeks.”
As for the Tahlequah girls, the Lady Tigers didn’t have an individual champion but managed to snag the team title nonetheless. Tahlequah recorded 69 points to cruise past Collinsville, who had 95. Durant (124), Coweta (133) and Pryor (155) were even further behind.
Leading the way for Tahlequah was Gracie Medellin, who recorded a time of 13:03 in the two-mile race. Medellin finished third with teammate, Amy Hembree (13:05), in fourth.
Rounding out the rest of Tahlequah’s results was Lindsay Chaffin (13:44) in 13th, Alejandra Medellin (13:59) in 18th and Madison Reed (14:18) in 31st.
“Alejandra Medellin actually finished 32nd last year and finished about 40 seconds faster (this year). She was a big plus for us today,” said Tahlequah girls coach Elzy Miller, whose team won its second straight regional title. “Amy Hembree was also 10 seconds better than she was last year.”
Picking up the individual gold was Stilwell’s Sydney Lawrence, whose time of 11:52 was 14 seconds better than Grove’s Michaela Werner (12:06).
Up next for both Tahlequah teams is the state meet in Edmond on Saturday. The Class 5A girls will run at 2 p.m. with the boys to follow at 2:45.